“Here am I. Send me.”

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“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:33-34

2In January I spent 10 days at World Venture Headquarters in Littleton, Colorado.  During my first few days there I attended Pre-Departure training, which was filled with great information to help me prepare for this next chapter in my journey.  The sessions covered topics such as integrity, mourning, transitions, as well as logistical issues of moving to another country.

During my time in Colorado I also attended Renewal Conference, which is held annually for all World Venture missionaries on home assignment.  The goal of RC is to help us missionaries connect on a deeper level with God, each other and World Venture.  The first few days were spent in corporate and personal prayer, along with times of worship.  Later on in the week we heard from many of the World Venture leadership and missionaries, giving guidance and encouragement to each of us.

My time was blessed by all that I was learning and also by the friendships God placed in my life.  I was blessed by getting to know three other single ladies who are each on their own journey to locations around the world, it’s so nice to have friends who are headed down the same road you are.

I also got to meet the lovely ladies in the picture above, each of them have been serving God in Senegal for many years.  They were all so welcoming and encouraging to me and I can’t wait to join them in ministry!

 

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God has used so many different things to speak into my life and lead me to become a missionary.  For over a decade I have told God, “I will go. Send me.”  Now the time has come, God is sending me out.  If everything goes as planned the next newsletter you receive from me will be sent from Senegal!  It’s such an amazing feeling to look back on my life and see the gentle ways God has been directing my life and to see his faithfulness in getting me to this point.
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The question I have heard a lot recently is, “Do you have a departure date set?”  The exciting answer is that I do have a tentative date set.  It’s only tentative because I haven’t been given clearance to buy a ticket yet, but soon!

Another question I hear often is, “Are you getting excited?”  I have such a mixed reaction to this.  I am definitely excited for what God is doing in my life and I’m looking forward to seeing how he will use me in Senegal.  But, I also struggle with being anxious about all the changes that await me.  I know that moving to a new country won’t be easy and I don’t relish being away from my family and friends.  I’m so thankful to be able to look back at my life and see how God has provided for me and my family, it helps me remember that he will continue to provide.

Final Thoughts…

As I sit here writing to you it is 2 degrees outside, with big beautiful snowflakes gently falling and I am relishing the view.   As much as this winter has been cold and long, I know when I’m in Africa I will miss looking out my window in the winter and see the snow falling.  But I can’t wait to see what sights and sounds await me that I can share with you!

I truly covet your prayers over the coming weeks.  There are so many goodbye I must say, all with differing degrees of difficultly.  I know that God will see me through this step of following him, but I ask you to pray that those I leave behind with be reminded of the same thing!

 

One-time Expenses – 100%

Monthly Expenses – 90%

 

Thank you for your prayers,

Kim Johnson

 

 

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New Friends

This past week I have had the chance to make many new friends and see old ones.  I have been at World Venture in Littleton, Colorado for my last missionary training and for Renewal Conference

Missionaries who are on home assignment with World Venture come to Renewal Conference to be informed and encouraged.

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This was our first day of Pre-Departure training…the staff at headquarters helped us celebrate how far God has brought us in our journey. The sparkling cider was great and the joy expressed on our behalf brought tears to my eyes!

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This is me and my new friend Hannia…she is also from MN and is headed to the Philippines to minister through Agricultural Community Development!

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During our free weekend Hannia and I went for a hike at Red Rocks. The views were amazing, the weather was beautiful and the time for growing our friendship was priceless!

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Each of these ladies has become such a blessing in my life! Spending time with other single ladies with a similar passion for God and missions has been so encouraging. (Clockwise: Soraya – Spain, Hannia – Philippines and Karen – Uganda)

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After 44 years of ministry with World Venture Marilyn Escher, missionary to Senegal, retired! I was invited by the rest of the Senegal team to join them in a celebration dinner in her honor.

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Each of these lovely ladies has been serving in Senegal for a number of years. I am so glad I got to meet them this week and I’m looking forward to learning about missions from them and serving together!!!

Family Time

The last two weeks have been full of fun family times!

Ok, so this isn’t quite what our Thanksgiving dinner looked like…but close!

My brother Mark and his wife Jenny arrived at our house the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and were able to stay until Saturday. What a blessing!!!  We enjoyed a nice visit together and an awesome Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m so thankful they were able to come and stay with us…life gets so busy sometimes that these moments of time are so precious!  

In some ways I feel like my time for special family moments is running out…

God has continued to provide the partners I need to begin ministry in Senegal.  I now have partners for 60% of my monthly support…which is an awesome feeling!  It’s so exciting to see God moving me forward on this journey!

Moving forward is good, but it can also be hard.  Starting this new chapter in the story God is writing with my life means that another chapter is coming to a close.  I have always had a hard time with knowing how to deal with change, so I have to keep reminding myself that God has always been with me and he will see me through these changes too.

So, my Thanksgiving this year was a little bittersweet…it will be three years before I am home to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family.  But I am confident that God will see me through the times of sadness that I’m sure will come as I celebrate next year in Senegal!

Ok. Picture time!

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Hunting for the perfect Christmas tree!
Mimi – Angela – Papa

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Angela – Auntie Kim

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Here’s our perfect tree!!!

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The girls had lots of fun decorating the tree while Papa watched!

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Mimi’s good at reaching the high branches!

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Our puzzle project…didn’t quite finish it. Maybe next time!

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Angela…the little baker girl!

 

“For such is the Kingdom of God”

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As God has called me to minister to street boys in Senegal, I am reminded of Jesus’ love for little children.  “Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

For me, love will include serving the boys through tasks that may not always be pleasant.  But no task was too small or beneath Jesus as He served here on earth. In Philippians 2:7, Paul says this about Jesus “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”  I am thankful for these reminders from the Bible about what ministry should look like!  I’m blessed by the chance to serve Him by loving his children in Senegal.

I am continually amazed with how much God loves each and every one of His children…you and me, street boys in Senegal, those living in war torn countries, the rich, the poor and those that may seem unlovable.  I have been reminded of God’s love for me numerous times over the last few months.  As I strive to follow Him and share with others about the ministry He has called me to it is easy to get lost in the daily grind, but each time I start to feel worn down, God brings something into my life to encourage me and remind me that I’m not alone.  He has set me on this path and He will be with me all the way…what a blessing!
Earlier this month my family and I had the chance to go on a road trip to visit extended family.  We had a great time visiting, fellowshipping and reminiscing!  It was really nice to be able to share with my family about the ministry I will be a part of in Dakar…and I have been blessed as God has led many of them to support me in this journey!  Knowing I have their prayers and support means so much to me!

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“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers I pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.”

Philippians 1:3-5

 

Can you believe that the month of October is almost gone? Before we know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us.  I’m very thankful to be at home for the holidays this year celebrating with family and friends close by!  But I’m also looking forward to being in Dakar next year for the holidays.  

Final Thoughts…

As 2013 quickly draws to a close my mind turns to all of the things God has been doing in my life this year and all that 2014 will hold.  I am so thankful for all of my friends and family who have been praying for me throughout this journey…I can really feel God’s strength upholding me through each of you!

My hope and prayer is that I will be able to attend World Venture’s pre-departure training in January.  (This is a required training that I must complete before leaving for Senegal.)  To attend I must be at 60% of my monthly expenses.  If I am unable to attend in January I will have to wait until June for the next training.  Please be praying with me that God will allow me to reach my goal!

Also, if you have made a verbal commitment to support me but haven’t yet sent in a commitment to World Venture, please do so.  (Making a commitment doesn’t mean you have to begin sending in support yet…you can wait until I head out for Senegal, if you want.)  If you have questions, call or talk to me…I’ll be glad to help!

 

One-time Expenses – 90%

Monthly Expenses – 40%

 

Thank you for your prayers,

Kim Johnson
 
 

August Newsletter

School children
Back to School…?
Does anyone else feel like the summer has disappeared too quickly?  It seems like each new summer speeds by more quickly than the last.  Along with all my normal summer activities such as a youth mission trip, visiting family, weeding, picking, and processing veggies, I have also had the chance to share with friends about the ministry God is calling me to in Senegal.

It has been such a blessing for me to share with many of you about this journey God has me on.  To  be honest, before I began this process I was a little nervous about sitting down with people, sharing my ministry in detail and talking to them about ways to partner with me.

But God has really blessed and encouraged me through each and every person I have gotten to share with!  It’s so special to sit down with follow brothers and sisters in Christ and explain to them about the ministry of the Day Center to the street boys.  Then I ask them to pray about how they might partner with me to bring the love of God to each of these little boys.

It’s humbling to see others giving of their resources to support me and to ultimately bring the hope of the gospel to street boys half a world away.

studyingAs summer comes to an end my  thoughts have been turning toward the beginning of a new school year.  But sadly, in Africa many children never have the chance to go to school.  The street boys spend much of their day out on the streets of Dakar begging and apart from memorizing parts of the Koran they receive no other schooling.

One of the goals at the day center where I will be serving is to give the boys as much education as possible.  On a weekly basis they are being taught God’s word and the basics of reading and writing.  Although, there is only a small amount of time available for the boys to study weekly any education they receive helps give them the dignity and self-respect they need and want.

I feel so blessed to be a part of reaching out to these precious boys!

Final Thoughts

Earlier this month I had the privilege to be a part of the bi-annual mission conference at Faithbridge Church in Park Rapids, MN (my home church).  Two years ago I was on the planning end of the event and remember working with my team to encourage and lift up our missionaries.  Well, the team this year did a great job of making all of the missionaries that attended feel loved, encouraged, and appreciated!  It’s amazing to me how God leads each of us to serve Him in so many different ways.

In August I was also blessed to help a former missionary to Venezuela with a “Man Junk” sale/yard sale.  Nancy was a missionary for a number of years and wanted to encourage me on my journey, the way she had people encourage her, so she decided to have a sale and donate to money to my one-time expenses!  She has truly been an encouragement and blessing to me!

In September I am hoping to meet with many more friends from church to share with them my heart for sharing God’s love with the street boys of Dakar.  I also hope to have the chance to meet with a few local churches.  The last weekend of September my family and I are headed to New Jersey to visit extended family and friends and share with them about my ministry plans.  It should be a perfect time of year to travel and I am looking forward to a road trip with my family!

 “So where are you at in your support raising?”   Great question!  I know many of you are anxious to hear where I am at in the process of leaving for Senegal, so here’s how far along I am….

13% – Monthly support

51% – One-time Expenses

Thank you to all of you who have already joined me on this journey and I’m looking forward to seeing who else God will call to join me in sharing His love with the  street boys of Dakar!

Thank you for your prayers,

Kim Johnson

 

June Newsletter

Imagine after arriving in the city the man, your teacher, tells you that you have to go out and beg every day. You soon find out that your teacher is not a very forgiving man, when you fail to beg enough he beats you. Life is hard and lonely. being five years old and being sent to the city with a man you have never met before. Your father and mother tell you to be good and study hard. Little do you know that it may be another ten years before you see your parents again.

This scenario is a reality for thousands of little boys in Senegal. Much of their day is spent on the street begging and hope is in short supply.

But at the __________________ Day Center, ___________________ Dave and Denise __________ are working to bring hope to the street boys of Dakar. At the center, boys come for a meal and leave with the love of Jesus shining in their eyes.

God has blessed me with a family that loves me and a place to belong. I have felt God calling me to serve him as a missionary for many years and as I’ve been waiting on his timing, he has been growing and preparing me for ministry. I am so excited to be heading to Senegal to work with the Dave and Denise. The boys that come to the center need the love and hope that only comes through a relationship with Jesus.

What I’ll be doing:

  • Learning Wolof (tribal dialect) spoken by many people including the boys.
  • Shopping for food.
  • Playing with the boys.
  • Encouraging the Senegalese Christians that work at the center in their walk with God.
Final Thoughts

I’m really looking forward to what God has to teach me in this newest part of my journey with Him. I know that it will be hard at times, but He never said it would be easy. I’ve had concerned friends ask me if it’s really safe to go work in Africa with street boys…yes and no. Are we really safe anywhere? Not really. But I love a statement my pastor shared years ago that has stuck with me. “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” I’m trusting that God will be with me through every step of this journey and that he will protect me!

Would you be praying about how God could use you to be a part of my team as I minister in Senegal? I look forward to sharing more with you in person!

 Thank you for your prayers,

 

    Kim Johnson

Siloam Mission

Siloam Mission - Winnipeg

Siloam Mission – Winnipeg, Manitoba

Summer finally here!  Yay!  I just arrived home from a wonderful 10 days with our church youth group.  We spent a week serving people experiencing homelessness at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  They have an awesome program called Under the Radar geared at educating youth on the causes and effects of homelessness.  Our group really enjoyed serving Winnipeg’s less fortunate as they were put out of their comfort zone and learned Siloam is serving in so many ways in Winnipeg!

Here are some of the ways that we served during our time there:

  • Helping with food prep in the kitchen which included chopping veggies, making croutons, stirring soup, peeling potatoes, making homemade tortilla chips, etc.
  • Serving meals to the patrons…and offering smiles!
  • Picking up garbage on the street with those who have experienced homelessness and hearing a little of their life’s story.
  • Making phone calls to thank those that support Siloam financially.
  • Sorting clothing donations and having tons of fun trying on some crazy clothes!
  • Helping patrons select a “new” set of clothes.
  • Doing some major cleaning at a warehouse building owned by Siloam.
  • Washing walls, door frames, window frames and sills, dining room chairs and tables…all at The Madison a new transitional housing project.

God was really at work in the hearts and lives of our students and through their times of service, devotions, testimonies, prayer, and fellowship…it’s such a blessing to see young people growing in their relationship’s with God and each other!

If you live anywhere near Winnipeg you should consider making a visit to Siloam Mission and volunteering for a day or two.  It’s a great way to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

“A connecting point between the compassionate and Winnipeg’s less fortunate, Siloam Mission is a Christian humanitarian agency offering programs and services at no charge to those experiencing homelessness.

Siloam Mission alleviates the hardships of the poor and homeless, assists in transitioning them into self-sufficient and generous lifestyles, and advocates nationwide on their behalf.”        

 www.siloam.ca

The Journey

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I want to share with you about the journey God has me on.

To start let me take you back to when God first began to open my eyes and heart to other cultures…
I grew upon a Christian home and at the age of 12 had the chance to go on my first mission trip…which really opened my eyes to the world of missions. But this was just the first step on a journey I didn’t yet know I was on.

Throughout high school and college God used many different experiences to affirm my interest in missions. After college I got involved in serving in my home church and even though I was still looking ahead to mission work, I began to wonder if I could stay here and serve. (I am truly a homebody at heart.) But I knew that God had placed in my heart a passion for missions and I needed to pursue that!

So last spring I began working with World Venture, a missions organization. They helped me work thru my giftings and interests to find the perfect ministry for me.

That ministry is working with street boys in Western Africa. I will be working with the boys at a day center, helping meet their physical and spiritual needs. The boys that come to the day center aren’t orphans, but most of them have little to no contact with their families. Traditionally parents send their sons into the city to study and live with a teacher. But sadly, many of the teachers are just looking to live an easy life at the expense of the boys. Many are not fed or cared for and as part of their training they are forced to beg and if they fail to beg enough, many times they are beat.
The day center provides a place for the boys to call “home” by providing them with a meal, education, games, and most importantly the love and hope of Jesus!

I am very excited that God has called me to minister to these boys and amazed how he has worked out the details of my life to lead me to this point! I can’t wait to share more of my journey with you in the future!

Pie Auctions, Candy & Missionaries

I hope you had a nice Saturday and found time to get done some things you been wanting to do! I spent most of my day in the kitchen. It was a nice day I didn’t have to rush to get things done which Made it even better.

Every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving our church has a pie auction. The proceeds from the auction are equally divided between the missionaries we support. Not only is it a lot of fun to attend the pie auction, but it’s such a blessing to be able to do something extra to encourage our missionaries during the holidays!

The past few years I have taken a couple different pies to be auctioned off. But this year I decided to make some homemade candy instead! Salted Caramels and Peppermint Patties, two simple recipes that I’ve made before, so I know they are good! While I was candy making I had on Christmas music and was praying for some of the missionary families that will be so far from their families.

So I now have 4 plates of each to be auctioned off, along with 2 loaves of Honey Oatmeal Bread. My prayer is that God will use my candies and bread to bring joy to our missionaries. It so neat how God can use things that we enjoy to bring himself glory and bless other people!

Here are the recipes that I used today. Both of the candy recipes were found on Pinterest, one of my favorite places for finding new recipes! Let me know if you try any of them. I would love to hear what you think of them!

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Homemade Caramels Recipe:
(Recipe from Food.com)

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar , firmly packed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Melt butter; add brown sugar and salt, mixing well. Stir in corn syrup. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium heat until candy reaches firm ball stage (245 degrees). This will take 12-15 minutes approx. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Let cool. Cut into 48 pieces with a sharp knife.
Optional: Wrap each piece in wax paper.

 

Homemade Peppermint Patties
(found at One Ordinary Day)

1 can sweetened condensed milk
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons shortening

Add condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything on medium speed using the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff but still pliable.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the palms of your hands. Roll 3/4″ balls of dough between the palms of the hands. Set each ball on waxed paper-covered cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Place cookie sheet in the freezer for no longer than 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, prepare the chocolate coating.

In the bottom of a double boilers bring 1″ of water to gentle simmer. Place chocolate chips in the top of the double boiler, add in shortening to thin the chocolate. Remove patties from the freezer. Place a patty on the tines of the fork and dip in the chocolate until completely covered. Quickly tap fork on the pot to remove excess chocolate from the patty before setting each one on top of the parchment paper. Allow the chocolate coated peppermint patties to completely set up. The peppermint patties are ready when they are dry to the touch. Enjoy!

 

Honey Oatmeal Bread

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 1/2-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp active dry yeast (heaping)
2 eggs

Combine water, honey, and butter in a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat until liquids are very warm (120* to 130*F), butter will melt.

Place 5 cups of flour, oats, salt, and yeast in bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 15 seconds. Gradually add warm liquids to flour mixture. Add eggs and mix an additional minute.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes more.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greases loaf pan. Cover; let rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake at 375*F for 25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Note: This recipe uses a KitchenAid mixer, if you don’t have one don’t worry. Start by mixing in a bowl with a strong spoon, then begin kneading the flour in. Once all the flour is incorporated knead for another 5min. Then follow the rest of the directions as listed.